Town councillors have this week asked energy giant EDF to deliver more benefits to Burnham-On-Sea if proposals for a new Hinkley Point nuclear power station get the go-ahead.
Simon Dunford, EDF Project Manager, was in town on Monday to get the views of town councillors on the multi-billion pound plans to build Hinkley Point C.
Councillors broadly welcomed the proposals, which will create 4,000 jobs, however they raised a number of local concerns.
Cllr Neville Jones asked why a new jetty proposed at the plant would only be used for building materials at the plant, not for workers. “We have a new ferry service starting in the Bristol Channel next year and I am sure it will be operating from Burnham by 2012 – the ferry would be an ideal way to get to the station,” he said.
But Mr Dunford said the seaward side of the Hinkley Point area would be “a sensitive zone” and that security may not allow the operation of a passenger ferry there, although he stressed that no final decisions have been made.
Cllr Jones added: “We want more benefits for the Burnham area in terms of guaranteed jobs, accommodation, extra training facilities and more links with facilities such as King Alfred School.”
Cllr John Morgan asked why two park and ride schemes are being planned for the plant’s workers besides both Bridgwater’s M5 junctions, but not at Burnham’s junction 22. “We have plenty of space at Edithmead and near Highbridge Railway Station for such a scheme,” he said.
Mr Dunford said he is in talks with a Burnham holiday park close to junction 22 regarding housing some Hinkley workers and that other options may be explored, although Bridgwater is “the preferred area for park and ride because of its proximity to Hinkley Point.”
Cllr Chris Williams wanted an assurance that the A38 would not be used for heavy goods vehicles during the construction phase.
“The A38 through Highbridge must not be used at any point for huge construction transporters – this is a residential area and the heavy traffic must use the M5,” he said. Mr Dunford said he could give no guarantees, although he stated that there should not be significant traffic along the A38.
Cllr Janet Keen asked whether security at the plant had been fully considered, to which Mr Dunford replied “the nuclear reactor would be built to withstand a 9/11 style attack.”
Consultation on the new power plant is currently underway and will continue until January 11th. The preferred solution will put forward in mid-March and a second round of consultation will then begin. By early July 2010, EDF hopes to apply for planning permission and it is seeking a decision by July 2011.
Residents in Burnham-On-Sea will get their chance to have their say about plans this Friday (December 11th). A public exhibition is being held from 2pm to 8pm in The Princess Hall in Princess Street.